Innovation. A brilliantly ambiguous term and call-to-arms which has been ringing out across law firm hallways for many a year now. It can be a pretty slow process, and even implemented innovation programs may not be delivering the promised value.
A more competitive legal marketplace and the ever-present calls to manage outside counsel spend are clear reasons to ensure that law firms do actually get this right. And quicker. So how do you accelerate innovation and optimize your tech budget and create a valuable experience for clients?
Step 1: Making service delivery accessible
This is a slight variation to simply enhancing service delivery. It’s about on-demand legal services.
In the age of Netflix and DoorDash, people want things now. The same applies to service delivery. The obvious caveat here is that people often appreciate legal services also being accurate and based on expertise. But you already have that in your firm. Why not make the delivery of that knowledge and expertise more accessible?
What we’re actually talking about here is using a no-code platform like Neota to create dedicated online tools that clients can log into, input details about their current circumstances, and receive individualized advice for that situation. It’s the low hanging fruit of lawyering – applying a set of rules and logic to facts. While it may seem like the less flashy side of legaltech, it can be a very useful way of approaching legal innovation and adding value to your service offering.
You can even apply one-off fees or subscription models to these automated advice portals for additional revenue streams. In the past, we’ve seen our law firm customers build merger control advisors, clause libraries, signing requirement tools, contract risk analysis portals, and much more.
By building it yourself (and making the branding consistent with your firm), you integrate your expertise, credibility, reputation, and sense of relationship with clients into automated advisors. It’s the truest form of ‘scaling expertise’ – compiling legal knowledge into a digital tool which can assess and respond to facts 24/7, without your own lawyers needing to get involved.
An example here is our customer, Foley & Lardner, who developed a solution to collect information and provide risk assessments to smaller businesses on Foreign Corrupt Practises Act (FCPA) compliance. A typically expensive and time-consuming compliance program to develop was simplified and offered on an annual subscription basis, with the ability to simply scale matters which required further interrogation to Foley lawyers.
Step 2: Making internal processes quicker and easier to manage
It’s an idea you’ve heard a million times. Speed up and automate some work so that lawyers have more time to spend on work which requires more thought, expertise, and general ‘lawyering’. But beyond this, internal workflow automation often means providing answers to clients faster, with more confidence, and based on more data.
It can range from processes like client matter onboarding to AML risk assessments, pricing assistants to clause libraries. A range of tools that hack away at time spent on low-value (or entirely non-billable) work. Better still, by opting for platform automation tools like Neota, you can have all of these digital tools (and more) all under one subscription.
The question here is less about why, but rather how. Making internal workflow automation work for you means properly understanding what processes are causing you to lose time, where bottlenecks lie, and what is currently inefficient. The opportunities are endless, but what will deliver the most value and ROI?
Step 3: Making tech work better together
Now for one of the most overlooked yet fundamental aspects of successful digital transformation: integration. You may have gone on a tech shopping spree and have a wonderful array of shiny new tools – but taking it to the next level means making sure the tools work together.
Integration is simply about different technologies being able to speak to each other. Think client matter onboarding which connects to your CRM, integrates your AML risk assessment, and can push information into your billing system.
Why is this valuable? Well, one of the most common pitfalls of tech deployment is replacing old manual processes with new manual processes. So while you might be saving time completing task X, you now have more work to reformat things or get ready to execute task Y. Automation for the sake of automation isn’t useful when you aren’t actually receiving much benefit in the overall workflow.
An example of successful integration comes from our customer Weightmans, who integrated their Neota claims handling solution with Kira and Mattersphere to deliver true end-to-end automation value.
Or take another customer, Thommessen, who built a Neota tool with internal and external database integrations to automate their new client matter onboarding process. This allowed the application to take data from their own CRM and the Norwegian company register to populate forms and speed up procedures.
Integration can help deliver significantly more value, cost, and time savings, and usually doesn’t require any additional spend. Step back and think about the grand vision – and then ask yourself how does it all fit together? Don’t think of processes in silos and work out how they interrelate and how you can make the processes work together.
Accelerating innovation is a tempting prospect for every law firm. But sometimes accelerating something means taking the time to step back, look at the bigger picture, and equip yourself with the tools that will help you scale and iterate effectively.
No-code automation platforms like Neota enable law firms to approach digital transformation more sustainably and in a more responsive manner. Things don’t change overnight, but the ability to deploy a whole suite of interoperable tools without having to go back into the marketplace sets you up far better for success. Being able to tailor these tools to your and your clients needs undoubtedly ensures that you add value too.
And ultimately, keep the client experience in mind. How do you make it easier for someone to work with you? How can you deliver knowledge in a more accessible way? The technology is always a means to an end, and you need to make sure you understand the end thoroughly.
Get in touch with our digital transformation experts today to discuss how you can start accelerating innovation.